gathering of nations logo 2019

GON History

Gathering of Nations Pow Wow History 

In the past 41 years, the Gathering of Nations Powwow and Miss Indian World Pageant has grown from an early, simple dream to one of the world’s most recognized annual festivals. From the beginning, the concept has always been to produce an event where Native people can come together each year to celebrate and share culture, and a place where singers and dancers can feel confident that competition is fair to all.

From those genuine and humble beginnings that the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow has evolved into the event you see today, as well as its role in many community outreach efforts. None of this could have been accomplished without the loyalty and dedication of good volunteers, friends, and family. The Gathering of Nations began “unofficially” in 1983 at the University of Albuquerque, in ABQ, NM. In 1984, the event took on the name Gathering of Nations Powwow, which was held on the NM Fair Grounds in the small Horse Arena, for two challenging years. After the two years at the Horse Arena, GON knew it had to move to a larger venue. While the dream and goal were large, GON did move to the University of New Mexico (Basketball) Arena know as “The Pit”, seating 20,000 + in 1986. The Gathering of Nations grew beyond expectation over the years; while numerous remodeling projects reduced the seating capacity of The Pit. GON remained at full sell-out capacity at The Pit for 30 years. In 2017, the Gathering of Nations Powwow returns to the New Mexico State Fair Grounds, known as Expo NM, to be housed on the newly defined Pow wow Grounds which includes Tingley Coliseum. With the expanded grounds the Gathering of Nations Powwow, visitors will enjoy the spaciousness of Stage 49, the Indian Trader’s Market, the Food Court, and the new Teepee Village.  

It was here at the Gathering of Nations that “powwow fever” has shed its warmth on such a wonderful lifestyle, and continues to be of great appeal and intrigue to young people interested in learning more about their tribal traditions and the powwow way.

Flint Carney, a long time friend and member of the Kiowa tribe, who said, “The greatest thing about the Gathering of Nations is the respect that is shown to all Native people of the world.”

This is the way of powwow life and teachings, which are provided and handed down from the elders to the younger generations. The Gathering of Nations experience does not end when you leave and head for home, but rather continues in your heart and mind, remains with you down the road to the next event, powwow or your family gathering(s).

It is our pleasure to welcome everyone to the Gathering of Nations. It has been said by many that the Gathering of Nations PowWow is the Mecca of Indian Country; while others have said, “There is a magic about the Gathering”.

Many people from around the world have made the Gathering of Nations Powwow their travel destination. The Gathering of Nations has grown to become more than just a “Powwow“, it’s an experience! While the Miss Indian World Pageant has become the largest and most prestigious Cultural Pageant for young Native/Indigenous women over the years.

The Gathering of Nations, Ltd. produces the annual Gathering of Nations Pow Wow and Miss Indian World Pageant. The Gathering of Nations is produced and managed by Derek Mathews (Founder & Director), Dr. Lita Mathews, Ph.D. & Melonie Mathews.